A Washington Senators fan sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the opportunity to lead his beloved team to a league pennant against New York's perpetually winning team in "Damn Yankees."
By amazing coincidence--or is it?--the Cabrillo Music Theatre's production of the 1955 hit musical comes to Thousand Oaks only weeks after the Broadway revival's touring company, starring Jerry Lewis, passed through Southern California.
That's good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it. The devil, here called "Mr. Applegate," is no longer Lewis wearing a pair of red socks while he plays, essentially, Jerry Lewis. Of course, if you like that sort of broad comic acting, there's more than a bit of Jim Carrey in Dink O'Neal's enthusiastic portrayal.
"Damn Yankees" isn't so much a musical comedy as a rather thin story bolstered with several songs. Some, including "(You Gotta Have) Heart" and "Whatever Lola Wants" became pop hits the first time around. A few others, notably "Who's Got the Pain," have little to do with the story and seem to have been inserted for other reasons. "Pain" simply provides another showstopper for the vamp Lola, here played very effectively by Mindy Franzese Wild.
Jim Barker plays Senators fan Joe Boyd, and Linda Stiegler is his wife, Meg. After his rendezvous with Mr. Applegate, Joe is transformed into a much younger batting phenom, played by Robert Townsend (not the filmmaker).
Director Allan Hunt and choreographer John Charron bring a lot of snap to the action, well carried out by a troupe of singing and dancing baseball players. The orchestra, under the direction of Diann Alexander, sounded sensational on opening night.
* "Damn Yankees" closes this weekend at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza auditorium. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $17-$22. Call 497-8616.
Magic Act: When Christopher DePalma was looking for a large-scale arena to practice his craft, he pulled the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza out of his hat. DePalma, a local magician, will head a quartet of acts playing the plaza's Forum Theatre for three shows Saturday.
DePalma became a professional magician 15 years ago, he said, after his marriage ended. "I quit my job as an insurance agent and decided to have some fun," he said.
He worked his way through Moorpark College as a bartender, entertaining his customers with magic tricks, and in the process built a mailing list now numbering "close to 1,600 names," he said.
Mainly he works trade shows and private parties, including Chuck Norris' New Year's Eve affair. At a recent computer show in Las Vegas, "engineers were drifting over from the Microsoft booth to watch my coin tricks," he said. He also drew a crowd at a home-remodeling exposition in Anchorage. "People up there don't have much to do except remodel their homes," he said.
Saturday's shows also will feature close-up magician Johnny Ace Palmer, whose tricks will be projected on a large screen; comic magician Scott Cervina; and large-scale illusionists Charles and Bobbi Peters.
Though the language should be suitable for a church at all three shows, a couple of the tricks at the 7:30 p.m. performance feature stage blood. One of those is a version of a classic illusion so different that the first time he saw it DePalma said, "I thought the magician had messed up."
* "The First Annual Conejo Valley Magic Show," Saturday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theatre. Performances are at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25. Call 480-3232.
Casting Call: Auditions for the Conejo Players' upcoming production of "Mr. Roberts" will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Conejo Players Theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. Call (805) 492-8028 or (818) 706-3189.
Auditions for the upcoming Conejo Afternoon Theater production of "Assassins," a musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, will be at 7 p.m. April 14 at the Conejo Players Theater. Bring sheet music; an accompanist will be provided. Call director Zachary Spencer at (805) 494-3175 or producer Jere-Ray Mansfield at (818) 597-0428.